North Augusta's Matt NeSmith is trying to cap off his amazing freshman season with a national championship. He and the Gamecocks are set to begin play at the NCAA Division 1 Men's Golf Championship Tuesday at Atlanta.
NeSmith played a big part in getting the Gamecocks through the Columbus regional. NeSmith, the SEC Freshman of the Year, made a charge up the leaderboard to lead the way on Saturday. The North Augusta, S.C., native fired a 3-under 68 to climb 14 spots to finish in a tie for second with a total of 214 (+1). NeSmith now has seven top-10 finishes on the season, which moves him into a tie with Eirik Johansen, Kyle Thompson and David Seawell for the second most in a single season in school history. He trails only Fred Wadsworth, who recorded nine top-10 finishes in the 1983-84 season. New Mexico's James Erkenbeck won medalist honors with a total of 210 (-3).
After beginning the round with three straight pars, NeSmith caught fire to birdie three of his next four holes to get to 3-under. He bogeyed the par-3 eighth to drop back to 2-under but gained the stroke back with a birdie on the 10th. He got to as low as 4-under on the day with a birdie on No. 14 before bogeying the 15th and 17th holes. However, he closed things out with his sixth birdie of the day on No. 18 to wrap up the round at 3-under.
Another former local star plays for the Gamecocks as well, Westside's Dykes Harbin. Harbin finished tied for 43rd in Columbus.
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